Nottingham Rugby have announced a friendly fixture against the Army, which will take in Vilamoura, Portugal, on Saturday 8th April. The game will take the place of their lost Greene King IPA Championship home fixture versus the now-expelled London Welsh.
Despite the best efforts of the club, no suitable opposition could be found to replace London Welsh for a home fixture at The Bay, due to the weekend of the 7th April already having a full calendar in all leagues, both above and below the Championship. All Premiership ‘A’ League sides were also unavailable, with every team committed to fixtures on, or either side of the weekend.
The club were then approached by the Army, who had initially been contacted about playing at The Bay, who offered Nottingham a fixture as part of their training camp in the Algarve. The offer has now been accepted, with a squad of approximately 23 players travelling to Portugal for the fixture.
Speaking about his side’s impending visit to the Portuguese south coast, head coach Ian Costello said:
“When it became clear that we weren’t going to be able to play a home game, the opportunity to play the Army in Portugal was almost too good to be true. Instead of two weekends without a fixture near the end of the season, we will now have a very competitive fixture against quality opposition.
“We will certainly welcome the change of scenery and a chance to train in the sunshine. However, we will be approaching this fixture just like any other back home, it will be excellent preparation for our final league game at London Scottish on the following weekend.”
The Green & Whites have lined up-against the Army on six previous occasions, all at home, between 1953 and 1977, with all but one of those encounters being low scoring affairs.
The two teams first met at Ireland Avenue back in March 1953, with the Army emerging victorious by a 9-0 scoreline. It then took Nottingham a further four attempts to claim a win, and their first try against the representative side, as they ran out 31-6 victors in February 1975, thanks to a brace of tries from Tony Sansom and individual scores from David Doig and Stewart McMeeking, along with three conversions and three penalties from Dusty Hare.
In February 1977, a Mick Latter penalty was the Green & Whites’ only score in the last meeting between the sides, which ended in a 3-3 draw.
The fixture will take place at Browns Sports & Leisure Club, located on Caminho dos Golfes, Vilamoura, as part of the 7th annual Algarve Rugby Festival.
Kick-off is at 4:00pm local time, with an Under-18s clash between Loulé Rugby (Portugal) and Huelva Union (Spain) also taking place on the second pitch, kicking-off at 2:00pm.
Entry is free to all spectators, with a pitch-side bar available and live music and a barbecue following the game.
More information can be found via www.browns-club.com.
Despite the lack of a final home, league fixture, the club have managed to secure two, high profile academy matches at The Bay. Firstly the Nottingham Rugby Academy will host Leicester Tigers Academy on Friday 28th April (7:45pm kick-off), before England Counties Under-20s then visit NG2 on Tuesday 9th May (7:45pm), with both matches being played on the first team pitch.
With several Nottingham and ex-Nottingham players expected to feature for both of the academy’s opponents, this is sure to add extra spice to what are already two hotly anticipated encounters.
A hospitality offering will also be available to supporters on the 28th April, with more details to be announced in due course.
All 2016/17 season ticket holders, sponsors, and corporate guests for the cancelled London Welsh game, will qualify for free entry to a Nottingham 2017/18 pre-season, home friendly (subject to confirmation), to replace the lost, April fixture.
2017/18 Season Tickets are now on sale, at discounted early-bird rates, until Friday 28th April, for more information, please click here.